work in sports

Whether you’re training for a marathon, working on your backswing, or trying to ace your jump shot, coaches know best. This is especially true when it comes to career management.

Finding work in sports is just the start. You need to know how to build a sustainable sports career, and some of the best coaches in the world have advice for sports professionals like you.

Here are some wise words on how to manage a successful career when you work in sports:

Do Your Best

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden.

As the head coach of UCLA for 12 years, Wooden led his team to 10 NCAA national championships. He knew what it took to do your best.

Tip: When you work in sports, learn how to celebrate your achievements, no matter the size. It’s crucial to celebrate that you did your best.

Make this a daily practice. Start each morning by writing down three things you’re grateful for. Then, finish every day by reflecting on three achievements. This way, you get in the habit of focusing on your successes and staying positive.

Build a Winning Habit

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while. You don’t do things right once in a while. You do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing” – Vince Lombardi.

When the most popular trophy is named after you, then you know a thing or two about winning. Lombardi, who won the first two Super Bowls and is honored with his name on the trophy, was one of the best coaches of all time thanks to his focus on consistency.

Tip: Create positive work habits so you can make winning a practice. Be consistent in self-discipline.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is by learning how to take criticism. When management offers feedback, translate that into actionable solutions.

To practice willpower, learn how to manage your time by identifying your major distractions. If your smartphone is slowing your productivity, put it away. Willpower is what makes you consistent and helps you develop a strong work ethic.

Also, keep looking ahead and anticipate obstacles in the long term. When you work in sports, you may hit a rut, and your career may stall. Prepare for this by researching opportunities to continue to learn and grow.

Learn About People

“A common mistake among those who work in sports is spending a disproportional amount of time on ‘x’s and o’s’ as compared to time spent learning about people.” – Mike Krzyzewski.

Krzyzewski continues to add to his legacy. In January 2015, he became the first Division I men’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 wins. But it’s not just W’s he focused on — he got to know the people around him.

Tip: Learn about the people around you and connect with your colleagues on a meaningful level. Results are important, but personal relationships can last a lifetime.

You want to build a professional network and establish meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, a September 2015 survey from the University of Phoenix School of Business found that 15 percent of working adults surveyed say they don’t have enough experience to make networking worthwhile.

You don’t need the experience to make it worthwhile — just focus on providing value to people. Apply this philosophy when you attend networking events, and strategize how you want to maintain ongoing communication with your best contacts.

Surrender “Me” for “We”

“Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we’” – Phil Jackson.

As an NBA coach, Jackson won a total of 11 titles with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. These dynasties were built on teamwork.

Tip: When you work in sports, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day. However, it’s vital to see the impact you make is bigger than you. Get out of your head and see how your value contributes to the big picture.

Keep lines of communication open with other teams in your organization. This way, you can lead brainstorming sessions where everyone can look for ways to collaborate and simplify processes.

Check Your Mindset

“My responsibility is leadership, and the minute I get negative, that is going to have an influence on my team.” – Don Shula.

Shula holds the record for the most wins as a head coach in the NFL. His success stems from his positivity and ability to manage his mindset.

Tip: Your attitude impacts everything. If you are negative, you hurt your team and yourself.

To cultivate positivity, you need to make it a daily habit. As you start each day with writing gratitudes, you should also write positive affirmations. For example, write statements like, “I am great at what I do.” This way, you feel confident and positive when challenges arise.

This also grounds you in the reality of the situation — you work in sports because you are awesome. You are equipped to succeed and can manage a successful career by staying true to yourself and your innate talent.

How are you managing a successful career as you work in sports?